London, early May. IQ have just returned from some highly acclaimed concert visits to mainland Europe (see box). Shortly before the show for the release of "The Road Of Bones" at Islington Assembly Hall, eclipsed spoke with guitarist Mike Holmes about self-criticism, perfection and serial killers.
eclipsed: It took between four and five years for each of your last albums. Are patience and slowness the most important components of the IQ formula?
Mike Holmes: We certainly don't go about things headlong and in a hurry, that's for sure. However, the five years between "Frequency" and "The Road Of Bones" were by no means planned. First of all, there were a few important changes in the line-up during this time...
eclipsed: ...which we will talk about in more detail shortly...
The first impression is deceptive: At first, an anathema's current release "Distant Satellites" seems like a continuation of the celebrated, commercially successful predecessor "Weather Systems". After all, the band also recorded the record with Norwegian producer Christer-André Cederberg in his Oslo studio, Steven Wilson mixed two songs again, and Dave Stewart is again responsible for the wonderful orchestral arrangements. Everything's the same, so it seems. And yet, the more often you hear "Distant Satellites", the more new musical territory opens up. Experimental synthetic sounds form the basis of Anathema's songs like never before, driving beats determine the atmosphere. Singer/guitarist/keyboarder Vincent Cavanagh is pleased that the public is also aware of this.
Pink Floyd and Mongolia - this word combination has something similar to, say, Prog and Genghis Khan. In the seventies and eighties, the discos of the same name ("Hey Leute, ho Leute") delivered the opposite of filigree or even psychedelic music. Which is fitting in so far as the Mongolians themselves present their legendary world ruler eight hundred years after his work as an unfiligree appearance. At least in the central square of his homeland. The colossal monument to Genghis Khan on Sukhbaatar Square in the capital, Ulan-Bator, is a massive one. Of course it can't amaze us as much as an advertising poster on the roadside around the corner. The most famous prism in the world shines from afar on a black background: the announcement of a Pink Floyd Tribute Show.
Mark Oliver Everett alias E is and remains a strange oddball. In his songs he finds the most poetic pictures for every situation in life, on stage he gives the babbling ramp sow. If you sit face to face with him, however, he pushes around as if he were ashamed of everything he does. He enjoys small compliments, sounds excited about what others say about his music, and rarely finds the right words to comment on his songs. Maybe he doesn't even need that on the new record. We've just finished his last CD "Wonderful, Glorious", when he takes "The Cautionary Tales Of Mark Oliver Everett" to the next big blow.
Swans were always gloomy and heavy, ignoring all mainstream and alternative trends. Their last album "The Seer" might have been hard to digest in its power, the new recording "To Be Kind" follows again the more transparent sound aesthetics of albums of the early nineties like "Love Of Life". Michael Gira, who has led the swans from the very beginning, is not a man of friendliness, although everything is going well privately at the moment and the sixty-year-old is getting married this year. In return, you can always rely on his depth and sustainability. His statements are explosive across time. That's why you can take your time listening.
eclipsed: "To Be Kind", like all your albums, has an almost religious quality.
The Aschaffenburg photographer Jürgen Spachmann uses his camera to get musicians like Steve Hackett, Mike Portnoy, Fish or Beth Hart extremely close to the skin. It's the only way he can get behind her mask, he says.
eclipsed: How did you come to rock photography and especially to the project "bigface", where you get extremely close to musicians with your camera?
Spachmann: BIGFACE is in stark contrast to my daily business, advertising photography. It enables me to work with many musicians, and I am always amazed at the sizes I meet. The starting shot was fired in 2006 with Steve Lukather at a concert in the "Colos-Saal" in Aschaffenburg. Meanwhile I work beside the mobile set also in my own studio directly above the stage of the Liveclub. The project is growing steadily.
51°28'31N 0°14'27"W/51.4752°N 0.2407°W - Coordinates that make the heart of every rock fan beat faster. Behind it is 117 Church Road in London's Barnes district, the address of a legendary studio that has been writing rock history for forty years and was named in the same breath as Abbey Road until it closed in 2009. The biggest names in pop and rock have worked in the Olympic Studios: Beatles, Stones, Who, Eagles, Clapton, Hendrix, Pink Floyd, King Crimson or Led Zeppelin. They took or mixed a lot of songs from their first four albums.
Their career began at the end of 1969 in the cellar of the trendy Dortmund music club "Fantasio", where they had their rehearsal room. While they were preparing for future tasks there, upstairs in the club there were star troops like Yes, Black Sabbath or Colosseum. The star of Epitaph should not shine as brightly as that of its English colleagues. Nevertheless, what the German formation delivered in the seventies in the areas of prog, hard rock and jazz was absolutely competitive. But in the middle of the eighties Epitaph went out of breath; the band broke up. 2001 then the comeback. Since then they have released three new studio albums and presented themselves live again and again. Cliff Jackson, founder, guitarist and singer of the band, tells where Epitaph are currently located.
eclipsed: How did the "Acoustic Sessions" and the collaboration with the violinist Tim Reese come about?